You know, everyone talks about 2 years at HBS like they're the point. The reason you do it. The education, the pedigree, the famed network.
And you delude yourself into thinking it is. That those months of class and cases and trips and parties and outrageous opportunity are the sum value of that endeavor.
Eight years later I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I was so, so wrong.
Yes it is about the network – but it's not the obvious, superficial concept of people of power and position. It's that this network is a web, an interlacing, a fabric of some of the most talented, thoughtful, generous people.
It's taken me 8 years to fully see this truth. Because at this uncertain, tumultuous, lonely time when I'm trying to do the improbable and defy the odds of success, I am surrounded and supported by these most incredible people and friends.
A classmate who messages me from Korea when I'm working on a deck at 11pm just to check in. Classmates who drop everything on a Friday morning to help me out with a tough decision by jumping on the phone and reaching out to others on my behalf. Classmates who are going through their own heartbreak but find ways to focus on the help I need and provide it without a second thought. Classmates who are my biggest cheerleaders just when I think maybe I can't do it.
And then I'm ashamed to admit that I took many of these folks for granted during the years when they sat beside me. I didn't fully appreciate how very full of talent and heart and generosity they were. I assumed things that I never should have and I dismissed value that stared me in the face.
But now, when I sit so many hundreds and thousands of miles apart from these friends, I realize how privileged I am. They show me and inspire me to be the type of person that responds to a friend's request inside of 20 minutes. The kind that puts aside their own problems and focuses on someone else selflessly. They show me what true friendship is, with their actions.
So many stories, so many paths. But one thread of truth: it's not some superficial title or pedigree that binds us together. It's the minute actions, the concerted efforts of so many to remain connected, that make those connections so.
My dear classmates, I am so grateful that have you to turn to and I only hope that I can be worthy of being there for you if the need arises.